Sketch, Hyannisport
Sketch, Hyannisport

Sketch, Hyannisport

Charles Webster Hawthorne (American, 1872-1930)

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With loose, fluid brushstrokes, the artist depicts the boats, cottages, and shore of this harbor, while still emphasizing the flat surface of the canvas

Hawthorne studied under William Merritt Chase and helped run Chase’s Long Island school before founding the Cape Cod School of Art in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The town attracted many artists, and Hawthorne became known as the “father” of the art colony.

Paintings of Provincetown fishermen executed in a more somber palette so dominate the artist’s work that this lively, vibrant painting of Hyannisport, a town 50 miles away, represents an intriguing contrast.

Charles Webster Hawthorneâ??s Plein air Sketches of Cape Cod

Hawthorne is so strongly associated with Provincetown that it is something of a surprise to find that he took a painting trip to Hyannisport, about fifty miles away. What is even more unusual is that the works painted in Hyannisport are much closer to Impressionism than his normally realist Provincetown technique with its somber palette. A student of William Merritt Chase and a lover of the Old Masters, Hawthorne is equally known as a teacher and artist. His skill at depicting the fishermen in Provincetown is legendary, while his work in Hyannisport is much less known.

This loose, fluid sketch has the spontaneity of a painting rendered out of doors, directly before the subject. With unhesitating strokes of the brush, Hawthorne transcribed the boats, cottages, and shore of this Cape Cod harbor. He abandoned his usual somber palette in favor of the bright blue hues common to Impressionist seascapes. His summary treatment of the figure and boats, and his subtle distinctions between sky, shore, and sea, emphasize the flat surface of the canvas. This sketch of Hyannisport’s harbor is an eloquent expression of the artist’s love of the Massachusetts coast.

Hawthorne, Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne On Painting. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 1960.

Object Information

Charles Webster Hawthorne (American, 1872-1930)
creation date
oil on canvas
22-1/4 x 20-1/4 in. (canvas)
26-1/4 x 24-1/4 x 1-3/4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Mary B. Milliken
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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